Immigration Adviser Newsletter

Contact Marty Logan – March 2022

In this issue we continue our coverage of the ongoing disruption to immigration processes and requirements resulting from changes to migrant worker visas, resident visas and border entry.

We look at the opening of phase two for the 2021 Resident Visa applications, following the melt-down of the Immigration New Zealand online application system when phase one opened for applications. We expect an even larger number of applications during phase two.

We unpack more about the Accredited Employer Working Visa (AEWV) and its implications for migrants and employers – and you, as their immigration advisers. This visa will be a game changer in terms of the complexity of applications, and the potential for disrupting smooth entry for skilled workers so desperately needed by many of your clients. Included below are details about the upcoming Legalwise webinar about Employer Accreditation, which you might find useful.

We share our thoughts on the Government’s latest Border Entry policy announced by the PM on 3 February.

As always, Pitt & Moore is available to support you and your clients as we all navigate the uncertain waters of current immigration policy and processes.

Please let us know via email if there’s anything you would like us to provide information about. We would love your feedback, comments, queries, and suggestions as to how we can best help you.

Phase two of the 2021 Resident Visa Category

Phase two of the 2021 Resident Visa Category opened on 1 March this year – and we’re predicting around 100,000 applications through the online portal over the next few months.

Whilst this category was introduced to fast-track residency for 165,000 migrants, the reality is that not everyone who wants to apply will be eligible, and the pressure on the system from sheer numbers applying will make the process more trying for many applicants.

This means lots of pressure on you and your clients – we have already seen system glitches with the application portal crashing on the first day, which all adds to the frustrations of those who have been waiting so long to apply. Talk to us about how we can support you and your clients through this process. In complex situations we can advise on eligibility before an application is made so that your client is fully aware of the risks before submitting their application.

New Accredited Employer Work Visa adds red tape for employers and migrant workers

Just when you thought you had enough to do, along comes the AEWV!

Clearly the 2021 Resident Visa is taking up a huge amount of time and headspace for advisers and lawyers (and clients of course!)

However we would be wise not to lose sight of the upcoming Accredited Employer Work Visa scheme being introduced later this year.  Anyone with clients who employ migrants will need to be across this category, and it’s our experience that employers are already gearing up for it and looking for guidance.

The AEWV will be introduced in just a couple of months, with applications for accreditation and job checks opening on 9 May. Whilst the Prime Minister has promised to resource Immigration New Zealand (INZ) appropriately to meet demand, we foresee some delays and frustration for employers and visa applicants as the new system becomes established.

In light of this, we recommend advising your clients to make an upfront investment to get the process right, and to submit their applications in good time. We don’t yet know if employers will have review or appeal rights where negative decisions are made, this process is yet to be confirmed.

Accredited Employer Work Visa applications for migrant workers open on 4 July 2022

This is the date that workers can apply online. The migrant check ensures the applicant meets visa requirements, but the migrant won’t be able to apply unless the employer is already accredited, and the job has passed the job check stage.

Once again, we expect heavy traffic through the online portal. We recommend patience, and having all requirements met prior to submitting applications to reduce processing times.

This system is similar to the Australian migrant worker visa process, and we are experienced in navigating it and achieving the right outcomes. Contact us for more detailed advice on how to support your clients through this process.

The impact of criminal law on immigration status

Without the right legal advice, resident visa holders who are convicted of a crime – even a relatively minor first offence – can face deportation action from Immigration New Zealand.

We’ve seen many cases where a resident visa holder has sought advice from a criminal lawyer without understanding that a conviction could result in deportation and that advice from an immigration lawyer should also be sought. 

We have successfully changed the outcome for many resident visa holders who find themselves in this position, and our criminal lawyers can work hand-in-hand with our immigration team to achieve the best outcome for clients.

Pitt & Moore presentation at Legalwise Immigration Law Summit in Auckland

Heather Collins and Elly Fleming will be presenting at the Legalwise Immigration Law Conference on 25 March 2022. The conference will focus on latest developments in immigration law and policy in the COVID-19 environment. Attendees can earn up to 7 CPD hours.

In their joint presentation, Nick and Elly will cover immigration and its interplay with employment law. Their specific focus will be on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce, employer compliance with immigration and employment law, and common issues encountered in employment agreements.

At this stage you can attend the conference in person, but there is also an online option. Click here to register

From the Tribunal

Tribunal upholds complaint for failing to advise client – ZI v Wan [2022] NZIACDT 1

The Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal has upheld a complaint against an immigration adviser for failing to advise their client that they would be in breach of their visa conditions if they travelled offshore. In Zl v Wan, the Tribunal found that the adviser breached Clause 1 of the Code of Conduct.

The client was a guardian visitor visa holder, requiring them to live with their child in New Zealand. The client travelled offshore twice. In the first instance, the adviser failed to lodge a variation application to the visa conditions, even though the client was travelling for a family emergency. When the client made a second trip offshore the adviser did not let the client know about INZ’s refusal of a temporary exemption or warn them of what could happen if they travelled offshore against their visa conditions.

The adviser accepted they had failed in their duties to their client and the complaint was upheld.

What this means for Immigration Advisers

This decision highlights the need to address negative outcomes early with clients as well as to always maintain proper communications with them. However, it is possible that the adviser was reluctant to give their client bad news, and matters snowballed from there. It is also critical to reach out for specialist advice where a set of circumstances is complex or novel and the adviser may not know how to proceed.

If you are uncertain about the way forward then we are happy to help address potential issues earlier rather than later, with a view to ensuring the situation does not get out of hand.

Hefty fine and sanctions for repeated breaches of code of conduct – RH v Ji [2021] NZIACDT 26

In the case of RH v Ji, the Immigration Advisers Complaints & Disciplinary Tribunal has imposed a fine of $5,000 on a former licenced immigration adviser with a poor disciplinary background. The tribunal also ordered him to pay the client $2,000 and imposed sanctions that ban him from reapplying for a licence for two years. The case against Ji included dishonest behaviour, providing misleading information, conflict of interest and numerous breaches of his client obligations. It is worth noting that the adviser was self-represented in these proceedings, which would have been to his detriment.

The adviser had previously been the subject of three disciplinary hearings with censures and fines totalling $14,000. In their decision on this latest case, the Tribunal put the sanctions in place to protect consumers as training and supervision were deemed not adequate.

The complainant’s application for compensation of almost $80,000 was dismissed bar $1,000, and the adviser was also ordered to refund $1,000 in fees.

As Pitt & Moore are experts in immigration law and practice, and in employment law, we can provide comprehensive legal advice on all aspects applicable to your clients’ particular circumstances. Contact us today on 03 548 8348.

Upcoming dates of interest

From Friday 4 March, 11.59 pm fully vaccinated New Zealanders and other fully vaccinated eligible travellers coming from anywhere in the world will no longer need to self-isolate upon arrival.

13 April 2022:  As part of phase 3 of NZ border reopening, temporary work and student visa holders currently in NZ can leave at any time and return to NZ, where their visa conditions allow. Australian citizens and permanent residents can travel to NZ.

9 May 2022: Applications open for AEWV employer accreditation and job checks.   

From 2 May 2022:  NZ border reopens to:

  • visitors from visa-waiver countries
  • temporary visitor visa holders who are outside New Zealand, as long as they meet their visa requirements

From July 2022: NZ border reopens to:

  • Accredited Employer Work Visa (AEWV) holders

1 July 2022: The implementation of the stand-down period comes into place. The stand-down period requires people on lower-paid Essential Skills work visas to leave New Zealand after a certain amount of time before they can apply for another lower-paid work visa.

3 July 2022: Applications close for the Essential Skills Work Visa.

4 July 2022: Applications open for Accredited Employer Work Visa.

Past editions of our Newsletter

If you have missed our earlier editions of the newsletter you can read them now:

December 2021 editionlooks at Government changes to migrant visa residency pathways, latest vaccination requirements for non-citizens, and a recent case of immigration Adviser deception.

August 2021 editionoutlines the main Privacy Act changes that impact advisers, the importance of good legal representation for residence visa holders facing deportation.

March 2021 edition covers implications of lockdown on minimum wage payments, code of conduct issues, and ‘rubber stamping’ practices among other highlights.

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended as legal advice. It is important that you seek legal advice that is specific to your circumstances.